Qalandiya and Bitunia

Tamar Fleishman; Translator: Tal H.

Since I realized the Israeli army was holding incursions and arrests in Bituniya, I intended to enter from the checkpoint near Ofer. But not, order is order, and order must be maintained…

I was told: This is only for goods. I am goods, I answered, trying to soften them, but it didn’t work. I had to make a U-turn and go back. Then I noticed the sign at the entrance to the Ofer military prison, and as an old fan of army slogans, I was attracted to the wording: “Operational Power”.

ביתוניא. שלט בכניסה לכלא עופר "עוצמה מבצעית".

At Qalandiya were two vehicles waiting for a long time for the ill patients – children, women and men – from Gaza, released this morning from hospitals, to be allowed to exit their long incarcerated wait at the checkpoint, load their belongings and themselves on the transport vehicles, pay the driver and leave for home, the Gaza Strip…

חולים מעזה חוזרים הביתה

What they, or I, did not know was that this is the last day they have 8 hours of electricity at home, as – by order of the Israeli Prime Minister – beginning tomorrow the electric current will be halved and now stands at 4 hours of electrical power a day.

Another happening worth mentioning at the checkpoint was my meeting with Shadi, the cab driver whose car had been sequestered.

Shadi who has not yet found alternative work and is supported economically by his relatives came to meet friends and tell in detail about the day he was caught, and that besides the court session that awaits him, he must pay about 1000 shekels for the forced holding of his vehicle by the authorities plus 700 shekels for the tow-truck.

Inside the checkpoint, between here and there, stuck, are Suha and her three adult offspring who arrived two days ago from New Jersey. Once more American tourists of Palestinian descent who did not prepare their entry visas into Israel ahead of time are forced to waste their time and energy running after the bureaucracy, a time that was meant to be spent meeting relatives in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Finally, I keep hearing words uttered by a shopkeeper in the Qalandiya refugee camp: It’s the same situation with you and with us. Bibi sends your children to die, not his own, and Abu Mazen sends our children to die, not his own…